Aunt Modesta vs Angel Lewis and his eels! Apr 11, 2020 17:20:51 GMT -5
Post by Radrook Admin on Apr 11, 2020 17:20:51 GMT -5
Aunt Modesta vs Angel Lewis and his eels!
There are certain images that one sees as a child that are so vivid, that they remain with you for the rest of your life. One that has remained with me is the sight of jaw-gaping, red-eyed, black-bodied eels slithering frantically with jaws agape in the pails awash in their own blood as they were being carried by Angel Lewis De Los Santos, my aunt’s Afro Puerto Rican husband.
He always casually went straight to the kitchen with them after day's fishing at New York’s Hudson River, because he considered them a delicacy fit for a king. So his mind was totally engrossed on getting the skillet greased and hot, gathering the condiments, preparing the veggies and rice. He would then proceed to swiftly decapitate the whole writhing lot, refrigerate some, and slap others on the skillet.
Now, all this would have been 100% OK, except for one very crucial thing, my Aunt Modesta, his wife. You see, unfortunately for eel-eating Angel Lewis, my aunt Modesta didn’t look upon the moribund, slimy, smelly critters in those pails as delicacies. Instead, she saw them as nightmarish monstrosities from the pits of some nightmarish hell suddenly appearing at her kitchen.
So whenever her beloved husband Angel Lewis waltzed in with pails full of black Hudson River eels, he wasn’t exactly received with a ticker-tape parade. Instead, what he encountered was a steady stream of demands that he stop what she considered an intolerable nasty habit.
“How could you ever think of eating those disgusting things?” she would repeatedly ask with a disgusted look on her tan, plump face as he stood before the kitchen counter calmly preparing his meal. But instead of the empathy she had expected, and believed that she deserved, all she ever received in return from Angel Lewis was:
“They are delicious, and you don’t know what you are missing,”
Whereupon he would continue to decapitate and split each one in half, and slap them on the skillet while she cringed with disgust.
“I don’t want those things in my kitchen,” she would then humbly plead. How many times do I have to tell you that?”
He would respond by silently slapping several more eels onto the skillet.
“Just look at the red blood and those hideous heads!” she'd continue pointing to the two pails at his feet. But nothing she uttered seemed to affect his total obsession. She even resorted withholding sex. But as long as he could eat his eels, it didn’t seem to matter. She tried silence. No effect. She tried not cooking regularly. No effect. She tried words of endearment, but he remained adamant.
To her increasing consternation, each Saturday, as if driven by some irresistible primeval instinct, he‘d get up at exactly six in the morning while the sun was still down, put on his white T shirt, fetch his two pails and his fishing equipment from the closet, and off he went-straight for the Hudson River and the eels.
This whole thing brought my aunt to the verge of a nervous breakdown.
“This is the last time I’m going to tell him!” she declared to my mother, her sister.
“What do you intend to do?” my mom asked, as they sat conversing on the sofa.
“You’ll see!” Modesta responded morosely, her dark eyes shifting maliciously from side to side.
“Have you tried--” my mother began.
“Please, don’t ask me what I have tried or haven’t tried." she'd respond as she'd begin to desperately pace the floor.
"I have tried everything. Begging, cajoling, depriving him of sex. EVERYTHING! That fact is that this negrito wants to eat those eels, and there is nothing I can ever do that will stop him! As simple as that. It’s an ingrained obsession. He used to do it all the time back on the island as a kid, and now he wants to do it here in New York as well. ”
“So what do you intend to do now?” my mother asked with a concerned look on her face.
“We’ll see what I will do. Just let him walk in again with those dirty eels. Let’s see, what time is it? Aha! He left to go fishing at six am this morning. It’s almost six PM, the sun has gone down, and he still hasn’t finished? You know what that means?”
"What does it mean?”
“That means that the catch must be good, and that the SOB is planning to waltz in here with maybe three buckets overflowing with eels any time now.”
Suddenly, as if on cue, there was a sound of the lobby door of the apartment building slammed shut three floors below, and footsteps slowly coming up the stairs.
“Aha! That must be him!"she said pursing her lips with determination. Just let him come in with those eels again!”
Just as predicted, Angel Lewis entered with his two metal pails brimming with gaping eel heads their bodies writhing to escape and splashing in their own bright crimson blood as usual. Ignoring my aunt’s murderous glare, he proceeded to the kitchen, laid the pails on the floor, and began silently preparing for the usual slaughter and the cooking. Onions and garlic began to be chopped, rice to be boiled, frying pans were larded, pepper and salt located, the usual prep for his royal meal. All as my aunt stood silently behind him watching as if in a daze.
“Didn’t I tell you that I don’t want those monsters in my kitchen Angel Lewis?” she suddenly uttered in what seemed to Angel Lewis as the calmest voice she had ever used when discussing the issue. So he really saw no reason to shift from his usual silent treatment to one of reasoning. As usual he responded by dipping into the pail, removing several black slimy eels, be-heading them, slitting their guts, and slapping their bodies unto the hot greased skillet.
Then he stood back as the bodies sizzled, gazing in delirious anticipation at the display when suddenly my aunt whipped out a long-handled ladling wooden spoon she had been hiding behind her back, leapt up into the air with it as she called him an SOB, and broke it over his back. I clearly remember that the blow was so powerful that it sounded like a firecracker had gone off. Half of the spoon went flying against the wall after hitting his back and added to the blasting effect.
“I told you not to bring those disgusting things into my kitchen!” she yelled at the top of her small lungs.
Whereupon Angel Lewis silently and calmly turned off the stove, carefully picked up his two precious, eel-filled pails, walked down the dark narrow building stairs, and disappeared into the late evening. She had expected him to return in a few hours, but he didn't. In fact, hours turned to days and days into weeks.
She asked his friends if they had seen him, but nobody had-not even at the riverside to fish. Eventually she found out that he had joined the army. There he would stay for most of their lifelong marriage only appearing now and then on leave-not saying much but without the eels. Problem permanently solved. But it wasn’t the same Angel Lewis, The new version that retired didn’t go eel-fishing. The new version argued back, had sired a daughter in Germany while she had remained faithful. Not such a good solution to the eel-eating problem after all it seems in hindsight.